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Money laundering generally refers to the process of taking money that was originally obtained from criminal activities and converting it to a legitimate source to conceal the illegal origin of the funds. For example, an individual who has obtained a substantial amount of cash selling drugs may decide to purchase a rental property to provide for a legitimate alternate source of income. The underlying purchase of the home would be classified as money laundering under federal law.
Money laundering crimes have been historically linked to organized crime organizations such as the mob or drug cartels. However, in practice, the federal government prosecutes all money laundering offenses from the large organizations down to minor offenders.
Money laundering is a serious criminal offense punishable by a maximum sentence of 10-20 years depending on the facts of the case. In addition, if you are not a U.S. citizen, money laundering is an aggravated felony for immigration purposes if the amount of the illegally derived funds exceeds $10,000.
Attorney for Money Laundering in Miami, FL
If you were arrested for a white collar crime like money laundering, in Miami, FL, it is important you contact a law firm with experience in federal criminal law. As a former prosecutor, our attorney E.J. Hubbs has the experience necessary to help you attempt to achieve the best outcome on your case. In addition, E.J. Hubbs is board certified in criminal trial law, an honor held by less than 1% of the attorneys in the State of Florida.
Hubbs Law handles all types of white collar crimes, including money laundering, in Miami, FL and throughout Miami-Dade County, including Hialeah, Miami Beach, South Miami, Pinecrest, Kendall, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead, Dadeland, and anywhere else in the area.
Elements of Money Laundering
Money laundering is most commonly charged under two separate statutes. Under 18 U.S.C. 1957, it is unlawful for an individual to knowingly engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 which is derived from specified unlawful activity. This generally involves the example mentioned above where an individual uses income derived from illegal activity such as selling drugs or fraud and then engages in a monetary transaction with the money.
Under 18 U.S.C. 1956, it is unlawful for an individual to knowingly conduct a financial transaction with money that the individual knew was involved in some kind of unlawful activity when the transaction was designed to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under Federal law. This generally involves an individual who is depositing money in a bank account in amounts under $10,000 for the purpose of avoiding reporting the transaction to the IRS.
Under 18 U.S.C. 1957, the federal government is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the five following elements:
- The Defendant knowingly engaged or attempted to engage in a monetary transaction;
- The Defendant knew the transaction involved property or funds that were the proceeds of some criminal activity;
- The property had a value of more than $10,000;
- The property was in fact proceeds of the unlawful activity; and
- The transaction took place in the United States or the outside the United States if the Defendant was a United States person.
It should be noted that, under this statute, it doesn’t matter whether the Defendant knows of the precise nature of the crime or that the property came from the specific unlawful activity. The government is only required to prove that the Defendant knew that the property came from some type of criminal activity.
Under 18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii), the federal government is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the four following elements to obtain a conviction under this section:
- The Defendant knowingly conducted or attempted to conduct a financial transaction;
- The Defendant knew that the money or property involved in the transaction were proceeds of some kind of unlawful activity;
- Money or property did come from an unlawful activity; and
- The Defendant participated in the transaction to avoid a transaction-reporting requirement under state or Federal law.
A transaction reporting requirement means a legal requirement that a domestic financial institution must report any transaction involving a payment, receipt, or transfer of United States coins or currency totaling more than $10,000.
Penalties for Money Laundering
The penalties for money laundering depend on the specific statute related to the charge in the case. Here are the different possibilities:
- Money Laundering under 18 U.S.C. 1957 – Maximum sentence of 10 years + $250,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property
- Money Laundering – Concealing Proceeds of Specified Unlawful Activity or Avoiding Transaction Reporting Requirements under 18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) or (ii) - Maximum sentence of 20 years + $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property
- Money Laundering – Promoting Unlawful Activity under 18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) - Maximum sentence of 20 years + $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property
- Money Laundering – International Transportation of Monetary Instruments under 18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(2)(A) - Maximum sentence of 20 years + $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property
- Money Laundering – Sting under 18 U.S.C. 1956(h) - Maximum sentence of 20 years + $250,000 fine
- Money Laundering – Conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) – Same maximum sentence and fine as underlying charge
Defenses to Money Laundering
If you are investigated or charged with Money Laundering, you may have legal defenses available in your case. While every case is unique, here are some possible defenses related to Money Laundering:
- Lack of Knowledge – In money laundering cases, the government must generally prove that the Defendant had knowledge that the funds used in a monetary transaction were fruits of some type of criminal activity. If the Defendant was given the money or property by a third party with no knowledge that it was involved in criminal activity, then he or she may have a defense.
- Money or Property Unrelated to Criminal Activity – The government must generally prove that the money or property was actually involved in criminal activity. If an attorney can argue that the actual money or property was not involved in criminal activity, the Defendant may have a defense.
- Property Valued under $10,000 – For prosecutions of money laundering under 18 U.S.C. 1957, the government must prove that the property or money is over the amount of $10,000. While this issue will generally be easy to prove, if the property involved is closer to the threshold amount (like in the case of a used vehicle), then the Defendant may have a possible defense.
- Identity – In every criminal case, the government must prove that the Defendant was the person that committed the crime. Often, money laundering crimes are proven through circumstantial evidence like bank and transaction records. In some cases, the government might not be able to prove that you were the actual person that engaged in the transactions depending on the evidence.
Find an Attorney for Money Laundering in Miami, FL
If you were federally charged with Money Laundering, you need quality legal representation immediately. Hubbs Law attorneys, Erika and E.J. Hubbs, will thoroughly analyze the facts of your case, possible legal defenses, and any potential immigration consequences if you are not a United States citizen.
Hubbs Law defends clients charged with all types of federal money laundering crimes in Miami, FL and throughout Miami-Dade County, including Hialeah, North Miami, South Beach, South Miami, Kendall, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead, Pinecrest, and anywhere else in the area.
District Court for the Southern District of Florida – find information for every court location in the Southern District of Florida.
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) - The FBI is the federal law enforcement agency in charge of enforcing numerous federal crimes including money laundering, counterintelligence, cyber crime, corruption, civil rights violations, white collar crime, organized crime, violent crime, and more.
Department of Justice – Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) – The Money Laundering and Asset Recover Section is the leading unit of the Department of Justice tasked with the prosecution of and asset recovery for money laundering cases.
U.S. Department of the Treasury – Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) – the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence is tasked with identifying and attacking money laundering vulnerabilities and networks across the domestic and international financial systems.
Bureau of Justice Statistics – find information on statistics for all types of crimes including arrests and convictions for Money Laundering.
Attorneys E.J. & Erika Hubbs
As professional Miami criminal defense attorneys, we take every case personally give every client the deliberate care it deserves. Our clients become part of our family and we fight relentlessly for their rights. Read more about us to find out how we can help you.
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